Opinions. Everybody Has 'Em.

Friday, 13 September 2013

The Mystery of Missing Time

Missing time, the phenomenon often described by those who claim to have been abducted by aliens. Maybe it's the 'flu bug and raging fever I've been fighting for a couple weeks, maybe it was spending three days at the worst of this watching a marathon of History channel programs about UFOs, aliens, and conspiracy theories, whatever it was I got to wondering about the phenomenon...and in particular just how easy it is to misplace great globs of time.

There is a week in January 1987 of which I have no recollection whatsoever. A routine operation which turned out not to be so routine after all, and a hefty bout of viral pneumonia immediately afterward, led to me losing an entire week of my life. I have not just forgotten parts of it. It's not simply that the memories are hazy. They're gone. It's like someone dug into my brain with some kind of memory-wiping device and completely excised that week from existence for me. Of course this isn't a scary memory loss...I know why it happened and I know that I was safe in hospital at the time it was happening. The sheer completeness of the time/memory loss is kind of awe-inspiring though.

Now imagine if you were driving in your car one minute, happily tootling along and very much minding your own...and the next thing you know several hours have passed and can't recall a blessed fucking thing about those hours. That's got to be somewhat peturbing. And it gets worse when no one will believe you.

I can't say that I'm a believer in either extraterrestrial life or that those same ETs come to our planet on a regular basis for the purpose of whisking away Betty from Bumfuck, Idaho for a few hours of intimate probing and ovary-snatching...but I can't say that I disbelieve it either. Call me an open-minded skeptic then. I do know that the human memory is fickle, often untrustworthy, and can be fooled or even wiped with relative ease. There are plenty of drugs can wipe or alter memory, so too can head injuries or fever, or even imbibing a little too much of the fortified wine! Heck, it could be said that we all experience 'missing time' every night to a degree when we go to sleep. So, accepting that lots of people have exprienced a great glob of their time going astray as they have tootled along in their vehicles or whatever is not difficult for me.

An acceptable explanation as to why so many people have had this experience is a little trickier for my open-but-skeptical mind to deal with. Are aliens really snatching human beings away in spaceships? Are our own earthly governments behind it, and if so, why on earth -? Is it some kind of mass hysteria? A global mass hysteria affecting people who don't know each other, who have had no contact with each other, and occurring at varying times? The fact that people are very often alone when the missing time occurs would surely argue against mass hysteria as an explanation? And then there are the recovered memories of many of these abductees...

Memory is tricky too. We humans have an extraordinary ability to wall off those bad memories at which we don't wish to look, and to polish the good memories until they shine with a brilliance which the actual events probably did not possess. When we witness an event, many factors can influence how we view it and how we recall it later on - time since the event, our physical perception of it, our particular psychological makeup, and even time of day and lighting all play a part. No wonder then that our memories of events can be so easily influenced and often distorted. How far then can we trust memory under the best of conditions? When a great glob of time - and the memory of what occurred within that time - has departed our halls of recollection how much less trustworthy will be anything we may subsequently recall? But just because memories might be patchy or subject to outside influences, does not necessarily make what is recalled completely false, especially if there should be independent corroborating evidence to support what is recalled. Whether weird, inexplicable objects found embedded under the skin of alleged abductees constitutes independent corroborating evidence or not very much depends upon whether you are a UFO/ET believer or skeptic, I suppose...

Time spent with the aliens just melts away...

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Much rejoicings in the Marshall household...Book 2 is finally written!

Ding! Dong! The bitch is done!

Finally. Finally, Book 2 in the Vampires of Hollywood series ( Dante's Choice ) is finished and ready to be sent on its merry way ( with much merry fucking rejoicing indeed from me ) to Untreed Reads. I hope Jay will be as happy to receive it there as I am to see the back of the damned thing here. Never has a project cost me so much in terms of my creativity and damned near my mind too.

The whole thing - from start to finish - was the property of that bastard Murphy to take out his law upon as he saw fit, and boy, did Murphy find some interesting ways in which to make my life seem like I had wandered into some hitherto undiscovered Circle of Hell. From catastrophic computer crashes which took the entire manuscript with it, to the head-tossing walk-out of The Muse, I even became convinced at one point that this project was cursed. Yes, actually cursed. Convinced enough anyway to find myself looking at cleansing sage bundles and bottles of High John the Conqueror and all that New Age bollocks in online stores, one hand reaching for my credit card, before common sense kicked in and reminded me that I do not believe in any of that hoodoo crap.

But I do believe in Murphy’s law.

Today, on this day and in the year of our Lord ( or Lords, or Goddesses, or whatever ) August 17th, 2013, I finally typed the last fucking syllable in 21 chapters and almost 76, 000 words. And I fully intend not to even think about vampires for at least the next six months. It may be a year or more before Book 3 appears so make the most of this one. Jay at Untreed Reads has told me that he’s keeping a place in the publishing schedule of 2013 for me, which is exceedingly nice of him considering that the bloody thing must be about a year overdue by now! I’m not sure what I shall work on next, writing-wise. Maybe nothing for a little while. Maybe I’ll do something completely out of the blue.

I’ll decide that after I’ve had a well-earned celebratory weekend. Think of Paul Sheldon at the beginning of Misery, dancing around his hotel room with a bottle of champagne after he had written the last word on his hated character Misery Chastain…well, without the whole car crash and Annie Wilkes and the eye-watering ankle-breaking stuff. And with Stella Artois rather than champagne because I’m one of probably only a handful of strange people in the universe who dislike champagne, even the pricey stuff.

For now let me just say it one more time to reassure myself that it's true…Ding! Dong! The bitch is done!

Annie Wilkes: It's the swearing, Paul. It has no nobility.
Paul Sheldon: These are slum kids, I was a slum kid. Everybody talks like that.
Annie Wilkes: THEY DO NOT! At the feedstore do I say, 'Oh, now Wally, give me a bag of that F-in' pig feed, and a pound of that bitchly cow corn'? At the bank do I say, 'Oh, Mrs. Malenger, here is one big bastard of a check, now give me some of your Christing money!' THERE, LOOK THERE, NOW SEE WHAT YOU MADE ME DO!

Monday, 8 July 2013

The Muse Returns...

...Finally, the annoying fickle creature has returned from her impromptu vacation ( and she didn't even bring me back a stick of rock, jeez ) and I am once again able to write without wanting to cut off all of my own fingers and throw my computer through the nearest window in sheer frustration.

Don't get me wrong, the situation is not yet perfect - the Muse is being fickle still, attending to topping up her tan when she ought to be whispering sweetly creative somethings in my ear - but hell, this is an imperfect world in which we, including me and the Muse, live in, and so one cannot reasonably expect 24/7 perfection. 300 words-a-day may seem like a mere paragraph to those fortunate souls whose Muse is forever attendant or who can function without her, but to me right now it's a major frickin' achievement and no one is going to take that away from me. Not even if I scrub 226 of those words next day. You want perfection, look elsewhere than  this world. And hey, I'm not ungrateful...I mean, this has not been a bad year so far...Andy Murray won Wimbledon ( first Brit male in 77 years to do so and first Scots person ever, as far as I am aware ), we are having our first ( and probably only ) heatwave of summer in the UK, and mine and the Housemate's new business is coming along nicely, so I can't hardly complain about my lot. In fact, I am quite, quite happy and near-deliriously hopeful for the first time in many months...

But more on that later.

For now all I shall say is, I am writing again. It's coming slowly, in pieces, sometimes not without the odd grimace of frustration still, and I refuse to even try to force it, so heaven knows Mr Allison how long it may yet take, but the 2nd instalment of the 'Vampires of Hollywood' saga WILL get written and, I suspect, within 2013...which is a damn sight better prediction than I was making a couple months ago! As for everything else...all I can say is, just be patient for a wee while yet and ye shall be rewarded of your waiting!

So, celebrate like these bitches are doing...Go on, you know you want to...

Oh yes indeed, celebrate it, bitches!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

All You Ever Wanted To Ask But Were Afraid To Know... GeeGee Interviews Me!

Go follow the link, peoples, and read GeeGee Curtained's review of 'Voodoo Woman' and her fun, insightful interview with yours truly! Go here for Behind GeeGee's Curtain at The Modern L.

Hurry now! Whilst it's hot and fresh!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Normal Services Shall Be Resumed...umm, in a while?

Been a little on the poorly side lately and not around much. After the disaster with the 'Vampires of Hollywood #2' manuscript which has necessitated a lengthy and stressful rewrite, things began to take a bit of a physical toll on my health. I've had to step out of the cockpit and let that plane fly itself for a wee while. I'm not sure when those normal services will be resumed ( nor indeed how normal they will be, or ever have been ), so please just have patience and bear with me!

Meantime, enjoy the above pic. It's about as close to freakin' summer as the UK is likely to get at the moment!

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Ever Have One of THOSE Days...

... where it's Friday 28th February for everyone else but you apparently have awoken in some horrible time warp where it is Friday 13th? Well, I'm having one right now. And it's living up to its reputation in fucking style!

Okay, let's be honest...some of it is my fault for being a hidebound old technophobe who does not deal well with change.

I've been trying to get Book 2 in 'The Vampires of Hollywood' series finished and off to Untreed Reads before I embark upon what I am certain will be a gruelling learning curve as I finally have my computer upgraded and Microsoft Office 2010 installed. I simply can't concentrate on finishing a book - especially one which has already been a whore of a thing to get cranked out - whilst learning some newfangled software...program...oh whatever, thingies...at the same time. My head would explode. Simple as that. Worse, other peoples' heads may explode too...because that's what tends to happen when heads are brought into forceful contact with heavy objects thrown at them by writers who have started to absolutely hate their own creation.

Anyway, until now - this very day, in fact - I have continued the archaic habit of writing everything to disk ( yes, what we used to call a floppy disk - laugh now, go on ) and after getting sick of continually renewing the back-ups on the hard drive because I rewrite everything a dozen times before I'm even near happy with it, I kind of stopped backing things up quite so often. Sometimes I'd have something 3/4 finished before I'd remember to back it up.

That happened with Book 2. Hadn't got round to backing it up. Put the disk in this morning...

...and the bottom fell out of my writing world. The disk had corrupted. All data was irretrievable.

I sat there in front of the little message box displayed on my computer screen - absolutely certain, of course, that the fucker was laughing at me - a high-pitched mental scream echoing in my head "NOOOO-OOOOO!!!!" and no doubt wearing that stunned, hammered expression of someone who, happily picking flowers buy the railway tracks, has just caught the 5.15 express in the back ( I think I'm actually still in shock and so the reality of the mountainous task ahead of me hasn't quite sunk in yet ). After several minutes of this, I finally called A Guy Who Fixes Computers and he's coming round tomorrow afternoon to take a look at my elderly, ailing machine, see if he can do anything about the corrupted files. He isn't hopeful that he can retrieve them from the disk, however. So unless the files are hidden somewhere on my hard drive, I'm screwed. I shall have to rewrite Book 2 in its entirety from word one to the damn near end that I had finally gotten to just a few nights ago.
Yeah, this is more
like it...

Anyway, one way or another I suspect the release date for Book 2 ( which was intended to be June/July 2013 ) will have to be re-scheduled. I may well be without a computer for up to a week if he needs to take it off-site to upgrade and fix. Maybe longer depending upon how busy The Guy is and how fast he works. I know I shall feel bereft, set adrift in a strange and frightening Internet-less universe, forced back to the PenandInk Age without a computer keyboard to tap-tap-tap upon. Okay, that last doesn't bother me so much. I only gave up writing everything out longhand first because my wrist joints can't take it anymore. Ah, the trusty old typewriter...how I loved thee. No, wait, those things used to go to buggeration on me too...

Oh, and I just discovered that I've ben taking out-of-date medication for, well, who the hell knows how long! Another thing that I ought to have been paying more attention to. Shouldn't make too much difference...but you know that wee sinking feeling you get when you realize something like that? Yeah. That one. And my electricity bill came in and it is gi-normous. And don't even start me on the ongoing battle with the local council ass-clowns over their precious wheelie bins...

Putting on a pair of sandals and just walking out into the desert suddenly doesn't seem like such a bad idea.
Might be an idea to keep these away from me at the moment...

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Have Some Guilt-Free Pleasure!

Guaranteed guilt-free!
Although I get the concept of a “guilty pleasure” I don’t have any personal empathy with it and frankly, I dislike the entire loaded phrase.

Let’s look at the two words: “guilty” and “pleasure”. Since they have opposing meanings they make the phrase an oxymoron. We feel guilty when we have done something bad or harmful, usually to another party. We might feel guilty as children when we see that our actions have upset or disappointed our parents. As adults we might feel guilty for cheating on our spouse, or for stealing money out of the petty cash at work. Guilt is inherently an unpleasant feeling. It is our conscience pricking at us, making us feel bad about ourselves and ashamed of our actions. Because it’s such a bad feeling we don’t want to repeat the experience which caused it. Pleasure, on the other hand, is something which makes us feel good. It makes us happy. Therefore we want to repeat the experience, often as many times as possible. If a pleasure makes you feel guilty, then it makes you feel bad or ashamed, and it cannot possibly be a pleasure. Our pleasures - given that they don’t harm anyone else or break too many obvious laws - should never make us feel guilty.

It’s easy to dismiss the concept of “guilty pleasure” with a casual “Oh, it’s just a saying. It doesn’t mean anything.” Granted, there are lots of words and phrases in our rich old English language which we do use casually and which are not freighted with meaning, and God knows I’m rarely ever an unbearably pc word-Nazi who takes issue with every sentence uttered. Who the hell has time for that? And even if I did have that kind of time on my hands, I could better occupy my hands with a chocolate ├ęclair, a few bottles of Stella ( okay, okay then...at least ten bottles of Stella ), and maybe a woman if I’m feeling so inclined. None of which I ever feel the least bit guilty about. And I'm not a feminist either ( wait...I just got to thinking about how ludicrous that is and now I need to quickly stitch my sides back together )! But there are just some bugbears too grizzly not to take a poke at them, and “guilty pleasure” is not an innocent phrase. Therefore I will always spare a little time between getting better acquainted with Madame Artois and deciding how many varities of full-fat cheese I want on my pizza for taking a poke at this bugbear. In the case of “guilty pleasure” words do have meaning, and not a positive meaning either. Labeling our indulgences and pleasures as “guilty” is just another verbal means of oppressing women. Plenty enough women have issues with self-esteem, often linked to other issues such as an ongoing battle with food and weight and appearance, things which are already preyed on by rapacious, unscrupulous companies flogging everything from fat-sucking diet pills to wrinkle-banishing miracle face creams, and a media obsessed with this year’s crop of vacuous skinny-ass celebrities. That it is women themselves who most often bandy inquiries like “Ooh, what's your guilty pleasure?” around in the company of other women, makes the darker implications with which this phrase is weighted even more insidious. Women help to perpetuate their own oppression, and to bolster their own feelings of inferiority by continuing to employ uselessly outdated, irritatingly loaded phrases like this, each and all of which should be banished from the English language for good.

Think about this for a moment: when was the last time you heard a conversation between two men at a bar in which guilty pleasures were mentioned?


Joe: “Oh man, I gotta tell you…watching porn is my guilty pleasure! Sheer wicked indulgence!”
Bob: “Oooh! I know! My guilty pleasure is having an extra pint on Friday evening. Sooo bad, but sooo good!”

I mean, Jesus, it even sounds weird and silly, doesn’t it? I know I want to be as far from these two loony old fishwives as it would be possible to get without falling off a continent. Men don’t talk about guilty pleasures because, quite simply, men rarely feel guilty about their pleasures. Certainly they don’t see pleasures or indulgences as something bad, something to be ashamed of, something to keep a secret, nearly as often as women do. And it is high time we women joined our male counterparts in making our pleasures a guilt-free zone too!

Now, if y'all would excuse me, I'm off to indulge in some non-guilty, free-from-recriminations beers on this Sunday evening!